Your boy or girl loves dance.  They love it so much, they want to take more than one class or even more, join performing company.  The thing about dance is it’s not good enough for the child to like it, Mom needs to also.  Being a dance Mom requires organization and patience.  I have been doing this for 24 years and some parents I have seen pass through do not have the skills to successfully navigate the additional demands.  If that person is you, it is ok to say no to your child if your family cannot survive the additional stress.  If your middle name is chill and flexible, then this blog is for you!

Let’s start with the organizational tips

  • Communication from your director- regardless of where you attend, your director has communicated information to you and will do so throughout the season. Probably most likely in print.  You will need to reference this information frequently, so here is the tips to make your director think you are super awesome
    • If you are an electronic soul, save the trees personality, the first thing you do each season is create an additional email folder. Each email should be placed in that folder for referencing later
    • Immediately use your personal method for reminding yourself regarding the information in the printed communication. I personally immediately pull out my phone calendar and set reminder alarms and place information in appointments on the correct day.  Don’t do this later, you are busy, you will forget
    • When you get the calendar at the first parent meeting, go home and put ALL of those dates on your calendars. I recommend both paper and electronic
    • I recommend a “mommy book” where you have a three ring binder with sheet protectors and dividers for each child. There you place the paper informational communication and you can print the emails if you need that on paper to fully process.  The mommy book should be kept in the same place always.  I keep mine on my desk shelf.  No one touches my mommy book but me as I have a family of “not me”s meaning they look at and use things and don’t put them back, but deny it to the ends of the earth.  Since I have been doing the mommy book for so many years, my household knows not to touch it almost to the same level as my sewing scissors, but not quite
      • Some studios provide printed notes to dancers. I recommend a dancer three ring binder that is kept in the dance bag to receive director communication given to the child.  I guarantee if the child is carrying a lose piece of notebook paper or worse yet a sticky note, you will never see it.  Have I had dance teachers that insist of giving my child a small sticky note with information for me?  Yup, and that dance teacher doesn’t get what they wanted either because I never saw it.
      • Respect your teacher’s and director’s requested method of communication. If they ask you to write a note or send an email, please do so.  Before you type one word, look through your emails and papers to make sure your question has not been answered yet.  You might also ask a trust-worthy experienced parent too.  If you have the teacher text number for emergencies, you know like we are in traffic, or my kid is in the emergency room and won’t be at the performance, reserve that for emergencies.  Your job isn’t 24/7, neither are theirs, so communicate as requested
      • Costumes – costumes will come in as the year progresses. You need to keep track of every piece for an entire season.  This is not how to care for them, check out a previous blog for that information.  This is how to keep track of them.  At this point I will reiterate that starting at no later than age 10, you need to do all of this organization with your dancer beside you with by 13 the dancer is doing this process alone with you checking completion
        • Have one area in your home where costumes are always kept, including your undergarments and performance basic/jacket.   Did I say always?  I meant that.  I don’t recommend your child’s room, but an area you pass frequently so you can note changes or missing items immediately
        • Write on your phone in the notes section style of dance, name of dance and costume with all pieces so you can reference easily
        • Next, create your own word or excel document where you can reference for each time you need to check the costume. List all the pieces, including shoe type and color as well as hairstyle
        • Create a costume book for your dancer to be kept with the costumes. Another three ring binder with sheet protectors.  One page per costume with a picture of your dancer in the costume and a list of each item.  Your dancer can move around the order for each performance so they simply need to flip the pages to what’s next
        • Place each costume on a hanger immediately. Check my costume care for how to store and freshen up.  Place your child’s name on the tag, unless the costume is see-through where the tag is, then remove the tag and mark their name someplace that won’t show through
        • Get gallon baggies and cut a small hole in the baggie. Write on the outside the child’s name, piece number and a list of the costume pieces.  Place the accessories in the baggie and hang the baggie on the hanger
        • Hats should be in a box to prevent accidents that will impact the shape of the hat
      • Ready for performances
        • When traveling performances occur, have a small basket as a catch all which includes pins, sewing kit, hygiene items, spare tights, etc
        • For travel performances, check everything when you arrive at the venue and when you leave, that way you are noticing right away if something drops or gets scooped up by another dancer
        • Costumes are always in a costume bag
        • Check costume list and gather things at least two days before a performance, then you will have time to wash anything needed as well as locate missing items
        • For performances that are at a venue such as Dance Against Cancer, Nutcracker or recital, where you have multiple full costumes with possible quick changes, bringing a costume rack is a must. Each family has their own preference; we chose to build our own box.  Many families will hang a shoe organizer or other types of organizers to hold shoes.  Be sure to still have a larger basket to be a catch all for quick changes
        • If you are a mom of a daughter, waitress aprons prove very useful to hold the hairspray, bobby pins and other tools needed for quick hair changes
        • Again train your child so that by age 13, you are no longer needed backstage and can stay in the audience. Dancers will move to helping each other, which is important because backstage is full and the less bodies the better
        • When quick changes are a part of the performance, have your dancer circle on the performance order which numbers need to be preset in the quick change area, undergarments are important because reality of theater is guys and girls change in close proximity. If you have a problem with your dancer changing with a guy near, don’t enroll them in dance
      • Keeping track of dances
        • As I stated before, it is helpful to have both a word document of your dances with costumes and have it in your phone notes
        • When you have the information handy in print, you are able to quickly consult to compare with practice schedule so that you don’t forget or miss a practice
      • Assisting your dancer
        • Communicate with your dancer about what is helpful and what is not. It just adds stress if you are trying to help but are just in the way
        • Pre-plan exactly how you will help them. Are you doing their bun?  Are you tying their shoes?
        • Don’t snit or yell. DO NOT SNIT OR YELL.  If you are stressed, walk away.  Let someone else help
        • If your dancer is young and needs help, don’t drop them off and leave and expect other parents to care for your child unless you have prearranged it
        • If your dancer is rude to you, walk away and let another parent take over, I guarantee they will not be rude to another parent
        • Teach your dancer to have costumes in order and how to figure out the right order to put on clothes BEFORE a dress rehearsal or performance
        • Consider underdressing, or layering costumes when possible if there is a quick change. For example stacking tights
      • Staying organized as a family
        • I would recommend that you get a family calendar app that shows up on everyone’s phone. My favorite is Cozi because everyone can contribute to the grocery list, add to the calendar.  These apps have lists you can create, including making a list for costumes so everyone has the information at hand
        • BIG calendar in the common area of the home that has date and due dates on everything
        • Place your regularly scheduled events, such as dance class times on a paper and post around the house
        • Have a regularly scheduled time to go over the schedule as a family

      Staying sane –being in any intense activity, band, choir, sports or dance is enriching, but can add stress to you and your family.  If your family’s stress levels are high, it may be time to say to your child no or limit the amount of involvement.  However, if you are involved with dance and a dance company there are ways to significantly reduce the stress

      rough-week

      • First, adopt an attitude of calmness
      • Take the organization tips to heart
      • To avoid last minute stress, lay things out a few days before in a safe place
      • Leave plenty of time to get to where you are going. Adopt the Ben Davis band mantra: to be on time is to be late!  If report time is 5:15pm then don’t come strolling in at 5:17!  That doesn’t just stress you and your dancer; it stresses the director and fellow dancers.  If you don’t care, then organized sports aren’t for you and do everyone a favor and drop out.  Sounds harsh?  It is.  Years of watching the same families arrive late without all their stuff and the dancers have red, puffy eyes from the obvious family conflict occurring.  It makes everyone unhappy and uncomfortable.  It’s selfish and I am pretty judgey of selfish people.  I’ve even overheard families stating they intentionally come late and don’t care, it is so rudeearly-is-on-time
      • Walk away from your dancer if there is conflict and allow others to step in; it’s not worth itno-conflict
      • If you are an unorganized person and family, do not sign up for the top level of commitment!
      • Devoted parents are good volunteers to help dance run smoothly. Unfortunately, directors and teachers tend to ask the same parents to do everything because you are trustworthy.  While that is an honor, and flattering, you need to learn to say no.  Just because you are crafty or can sew doesn’t mean you do everything, other people have the skill and are happy to help too.  You saying no will allow others to have the blessing of helping.  Say it with me now: NO!  Decide what you can do to help and do just that, not moresay-no
      • Conversely, you need to help. Don’t increase the stress on others by never helping.  Not cool.

Drama free zone – The best way to win your director’s heart is to be a drama free parent.  That doesn’t mean you can’t express concerns or ever say anything but it does mean:

drama

  • Support your child and all of the other children. Good job!  Excellent turns!  Learn to be the cheerleader.  You are not the coach; don’t criticize your child’s dancing.  You are to build them up.  And promo their friends.  No “GO *name of your dancer.”  Everyone is working hard.  I hate hearing the name yelling because invariably it’s only one or two of the dancers and the whole troupe is working hard.  “GO DANCERS!” or clapping loudly will do.
  • Likewise, teach your dancer to support everyone too. It’s kind and our world needs more kindness
  • Stay away from gossip. You will have parents that gossip and look down on others.  It’s inevitable.  Don’t play that game, you are better than that.  Treat everyone as a friend, even if they are not kind to you; don’t take on their monkeys

my-monkeys-fly

  • You will also run into parents who think their child is better than everyone else. It’s the dance community, unfortunately that is common.  Don’t worry about them, you be nice.  That is your job.  Purposely create in your mind a drama free bubble and don’t let anyone burst it

drama-free-bubble

  • Teach your dancer to thank their teachers and to intentionally complement others
  • Teenagers will have drama, especially if they are together a lot – like siblings. The worst thing you can do as a parent is to step in the middle of that.  You have the fully developed frontal lobe.  Do not feed the drama and teach your child to let things go

dont-need-your-issues

  • Social media can be a problem with impulsive teenagers, so check your teenagers media sites and call them on any drama they are creating and compliment them on positive outlooks
  • Speak to your teacher’s and director’s respectfully and look for opportunities to compliment them. If you have a concern, word the concern politely and carefully.  If you do so and the teacher responds defensively, that is their problem not yours, do not lower yourself to drama or respond to childish or selfish attacks, you are an adult so are they.  If they don’t act like one, it may be time to change teachers

be-kind-to-unkind

  • Do not bad mouth the teachers, company, other dancers or studio. If you don’t like the studio, change studios.  There are a gazillion to choose from
  • BE NICE- what? I said be nice

dog-smiling

  • TEACH YOUR DANCER TO BE RESPECTFUL, ESPECIALLY TO YOU. This is in all caps because it is so uncomfortable and increases other’s stress to see a dancer be rude to their parent.  It is unacceptable and if you do not teach them to be polite to you, then they will eventually be rude to others, like directors or future bosses and that won’t turn out well at all.  Don’t just think about your own family, but consider how your and your dancer’s actions will make other’s feel
  • Put other’s first. Seems a basic rule, but it really solves a great deal of drama

be-kind

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